One of the signed guitars from the stolen collection. Photo: QPS
Stolen guitars signed by some of rock’s biggest names have been found hidden in the dirt beneath a house on Brisbane’s bayside.
Although many of the guitars were damaged and signatures rubbed off, the owner has said he is thrilled to be reunited with his treasured collection.
Detective Senior Constable Lonie Horn said nine of the 14 instruments stolen from a Manly West house last month were found buried beneath a Lota house during a police search on the weekend.
One of the guitars stolen from Manly West. Photo: QPS
Another two were found in the property’s ceiling, while the remaining three were found at houses in Thorneside, Alexandra Hills and Mount Cotton.
The distinctive guitars were signed by rock names such as Jimmy Barnes, the Eagles, Richard Clapton and Kiss.
A tip-off to Crime Stoppers helped lead police to the haul.
The stolen guitar collection worth $ 30,000. Photo: QPS
A 50-year-old Lota man was charged with enter premises and commit indictable offence on Monday afternoon. He was also charged with an unrelated tainted property charge.
He is due to face Wynnum Magistrates Court on Tuesday.
Police believe the guitars were taken from a shed at the back of Leonard “Merv” French’s home between August 21 and 26.
Detective Senior Constable Lonie Horn holds up one of the recovered guitars as its owner, Leonard “Merv” French, looks on. Photo: Stephen Jeffery
The 81-year-old collector said he almost jumped out of his chair when police called to tell him the guitars had been found.
“I’d given it up; I thought they’d dump them in the creek when they realised they were no good to them,” he told the Redland City Bulletin.
Mr French said he was disappointed some of the signatures had been damaged or rubbed off the instruments, but said he could have them resigned by any of the surviving artists.
He said he plans to take the guitars home to a more secure location.
Senior Constable Horn said the thieves had probably realised it would be almost impossible to sell the distinctive guitars.
“I’d say they’ve tried to hide them for the short term until everything got smoothed over,” he said.
The collection was reportedly worth about $ 30,000.
However, the culprits left behind all of the acoustic guitars, including the most valuable instrument in the collection. It was signed by country music stars Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Slim Dusty.
“It’s a beautiful old Fender; I’ve seen Slim playing it on videos,” Mr French told reporters last month.
Mr French, a country music aficionado who cites Dusty as his favourite artist, turned to guitar playing six years ago as a way to cope with the death of his wife.
The 81-year-old continues to host friends for jam sessions at the makeshift studio at his house.
Anyone who has any information about the guitar thefts can contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.